Sunday, February 8, 2015

Questions about EMDR

[updated February 12, 2015]

Here are some common questions I have been asked about EMDR followed by my answers:

What do I have to do?
Nothing.  EMDR is an alternative to your usual way of solving problems by doing something.  With EMDR you do nothing.  You do not try.  You do not try to do something, and you do not try not to do something.  You do not even try to relax.  You just observe whatever arises.

Does there have to be an alliance based on trust and safety with the therapist in order for EMDR to work?
No, strictly speaking, you do not need to "trust" the therapist for EMDR to work.  But the therapist does need to be skilled at prompting during the process, including helping the client formulate pertinent questions, articulate fears and process emotions.  As in all therapy, the client has to feel safe enough to explore the issues that arise.  Ideally, trust is present and safety is assured. 

Do I have to believe in EMDR for it to work? 
No.  EMDR is not hypnosis or a placebo.  It is a form of bilateral (two-sided) stimulation to the brain that prompts your adaptive capacity without using suggestion.

How does it work?
EMDR is thought to enhance inter-hemispheric communication like Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) sleep.   It is also thought to run interference with short-term memory cycles which, by regurgitating information processing patterns, can get us stuck in mental and emotional ruts.  EMDR is relaxing and also seems to improve our access to resources we never knew we had.  That said, nobody really knows how it works.

How do I put EMDR into action with my addiction? Can I use EMDR when I feel stressed or anxious?
EMDR can hep reduce stress, but it is not a replacement for the tools you need to manage stress or fight addiction.  It is a catalyst for emotional and mental processing that enables you to apply these tools and strategies more effectively and with less emotional reactivity.

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